In Orlando City’s first road match of the 2023 MLS season, the Lions went to Audi Field and left with a point in a 1-1 draw. Duncan McGuire became the first 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick to score this season. However, Chris Durkin scored the first goal against Orlando this year to ruin what would have been a nice road win. Like last weekend, Orlando went with a rotated squad in preparation for its Concacaf Champions League match against Tigres this Wednesday. Here’s how each Lion individually performed in the draw.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 (MotM) — Gallese’s great run of form continued in this match, as he came up with four saves. His best save of the night came in the 26th minute as he denied Christian Benteke’s shot directly in front of goal. The Belgian forward’s shot could’ve been better, but it was still a fantastic stop from El Pulpo. Minutes later, he came up with another great save to parry away a quick shot from Theodore Ku-DiPietro. The Peruvian also did well to get his hand to a few dangerous crosses early in the match, including one from former Lion Ruan. However, his clean sheet was ruined in the second half as he couldn’t keep out a curling shot from Durkin that got past him and in. His distribution could have been a bit better, as he was accurate on just one of his nine long balls and completed 60% of his 20 passes. Still, Gallese made huge saves and snuffed out chances that could have led to more.
D, Abdi Salim, 5.5 — Like last week against FC Cincinnati, Salim played as one of three center backs for Orlando City. The 21-year-old’s night included both ups and downs and he was subbed off at halftime as the Lions switched to a four-man back line. His lowest moment was when he whiffed on a header in the box, leaving Benteke alone in front of goal with all the time in the world to set up his shot. Overall, it was still a decent outing from the defender as he put out a few fires on his side of the field. D.C. often targeted the left side of Orlando’s defense though, which is partly why Salim finished with just a tackle and a blocked shot. He completed all but one of his 12 passes and his lone cross found its mark as well. With Orlando already rotating its roster this season and its lack of depth at center back, these were valuable minutes from the draft pick.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 — The center back anchored Orlando City’s back line and led the team with 10 clearances. Although he only won two of his six aerial battles, Schlegel did well putting a body on Benteke so that he couldn’t get much power or accuracy behind his headers. He and Kyle Smith each had an opportunity to break up the play down the flank that led to the equalizing goal but couldn’t gain control. He played every minute of the match and finished with a tackle, an interception, and a blocked shot. Although none of his three long balls found their target, he had 30 passes at a decent 86.7% success rate. It was a strong whistle-to-whistle performance from the Argentine center back while Antonio Carlos works his way back from injury.
D, Kyle Smith, 6.5 — Playing as one of Orlando’s center backs for the first half and at right back in the second, Smith did well to limit D.C United’s game plan of whipping in crosses for Benteke. While he doesn’t rival Benteke in size, Smith still did well to make life difficult for the forward in the air. He won four of his six aerial duels and contributed four tackles and two interceptions before being subbed off in the 84th minute. Three of his seven long balls were accurate and one of his two crosses was successful. However, that successful cross was a secondary assist as it found Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, who then served it to Duncan McGuire on a silver platter. Smith also completed 74.4% of his 43 passes and picked up a yellow card in the 77th minute. He could have done better to stop the buildup to Durkin’s goal.
WB/MF, Rafael Santos, 6 — The Brazilian made his Orlando City debut and saw plenty of the ball, leading the Lions with 69 touches. His passing could have been a bit better as he only completed 69.8% of his 43 attempts. Despite playing out wide, Santos didn’t have many crossing opportunities, succeeding on one of his two attempts. He was credited with a key pass for setting up Wilder Cartagena’s shot from distance, and one of his four long balls was accurate. For the most part, he was solid defensively. While Ruan’s speed gave him trouble and he was spun around a few times, Santos finished with six clearances, four tackles, an interception, and won both of his defensive aerial duels. More time in the league playing alongside his teammates may help him better defend near the endlines to limit the kind of chances D.C. was able to create, and he’ll rarely have to deal with someone with Ruan’s pace.
MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It was a decent, albeit unspectacular, performance from the Peruvian midfielder. His 45 passes were a team-high and he completed them at an 80% rate, while connecting on two of his four long balls. On the defensive side of things, Cartagena recorded a blocked shot, three clearances, two interceptions, and three tackles. He also committed three fouls to help slow down D.C. without receiving a booking. Cartagena’s lone shot of the match was a try from a mile out that was blocked. He did have some trouble in the air though, only winning one of his six aerial duels. There was a worrying moment where a penalty was called for a handball by him in the box, but he did well to tuck his arm behind his back in the heat of the moment and the right call was made after review.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5 — The captain provided danger on occasion, but wasn’t able to deliver some of the game-breaking passes we’ve seen from him over the years. Pereyra had one key pass and no shots as Orlando’s offense continued to struggle for most of the match. However, he did set up a nice chance for Facundo Torres in the first half after a series of passes between the two. In 63 minutes of action, he had just 24 passes at a 75% success rate, completed his single long ball, and was inaccurate on his one cross. Pereyra helped out defensively with four tackles. Considering he had a middling performance with a rotated squad last weekend as well, he may just need some time to find how he can best pull the strings in this formation.
MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 7 — The Icelandic midfielder had a great game, notching his first assist as a Lion. Thorhallsson did well to not only get on the end of a cross by Smith, but also redirect it right at McGuire for the easy tap-in. He also had two shots of his own, although the one he put on target did little to trouble Tyler Miller. Although he could have been more clinical at times, he did well with the ball at his feet and was successful on all four of his dribbles. Thorhallsson completed 84.9% of his 33 passes, missed on his single cross, and had a tackle.
WB/MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Angulo was provided plenty of room to work with on the right wing, but ultimately wasn’t able to provide much of an offensive impact beyond good positioning and collecting loose balls. That being said, his only cross of the match was accurate and a key pass as it connected with Torres’s head in front of goal. He was successful on two of his four dribbles and had three unstable touches. Of his 26 passes, 76.9% of them were completed and he had a tackle, a clearance, and an interception on defense. The statistics won’t reflect his hustle up and down the wing to make himself an outlet if needed and get back defensively. Despite his speed on the field, he’s having a slow start to 2023.
F, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres was often swarmed by D.C. players when the ball came his way. As a result, he often had to make quick passes and then sprint into a better position rather than dribbling. He had a good opportunity late in the first half after one such case of link-up play, connecting with Pereyra to weave through traffic. However, his touch was too heavy in the end and Miller was there to gather the ball before he could get back to it. His only shot of the match was a header in the box, but it lofted over the goal. Torres had one key pass as well, setting up a shot for Thorhallsson. Only 76.2% of his 21 passes were successful and he didn’t have any crosses or defensive statistics. Although he wasn’t able to bend the game to his will, Orlando’s best offensive moments in the first half usually involved him. He was subbed off at halftime for some rest before Wednesday.
F, Duncan McGuire, 6.5 — There aren’t many better things to do in your MLS debut than score and McGuire did just that. After a cross from Smith zipped past him, McGuire did well to stay alert and get in a good position to put away a pass back towards him from Thorhallsson. There was some disconnect between him and Torres early on, but it improved as the match went on and they teamed up for a chance right before halftime. Torres headed a great pass into space for him, but his left-footed cross was deflected out for a corner. He showed plenty of hustle while on the field as well, racing back to defend and contributing three clearances. He played every minute of the match, but his goal was his only shot and he didn’t have a key pass. In the first half, the team’s offensive struggles limited his touches, as they have for everyone who has played up top so far this season, but the game opened up a bit after Orlando changed formations at halftime. McGuire won three of his 11 aerial duels and had 25 passes at a 60% success rate. His goal overshadows some of the other aspects of his performance, but it was his first start and he will only improve as time goes on.
D, Robin Jansson (45’), 6.5 — The center back may have only played for the second half, but he was constantly involved, with 30 touches. His 63.6% success rate on 22 passes could have been better, but he had a team-high five successful long balls from 11 attempts. The Beefy Swede blocked a shot and made six clearances to help ensure Orlando left D.C. with a result. He also had a shot from a free kick designed to deliver a low cross for him to run onto, but the ball skipped along the field and he couldn’t keep from sending it into the stands.
MF, Martín Ojeda (45’), 6 — Ojeda led the Lions with three shots, but none were particularly threatening. He put two of them on target, but all three were taken from outside the box and didn’t force tough saves from Miller. His two key passes were also a team high, although not much came from the ensuing shots. While he only had 19 passes at a 73.7% success rate, and neither of his long balls found their mark, it was nice to see Ojeda take some chances and create some others. He also contributed on defense with a pair of clearances and clogged up some of D.C.’s passing lanes.
MF, Cesar Araujo (63’), 5.5 — Coming on for Pereyra in the second half, Araujo brought some stability to the midfield as Orlando aimed to keep its lead. He had 17 passes at an 82.4% success rate, was accurate on his only long ball, and had a key pass by teeing up a shot for Ojeda. Araujo also had three clearances, a tackle, and an interception to help Orlando’s back line. On D.C.’s goal, he overcommitted when Durkin seemed poised to shoot with his right foot, only to be out of position when the D.C. attacker cut back to his left foot. Although Orlando couldn’t hold onto its lead, Araujo helped Orlando handle a chaotic second half.
MF, Gaston Gonzalez (67’), 4.5 — The winger only had 13 touches and completed just three of his four passes in a performance that could have been better coming off the bench with fresh legs. Gonzalez committed three fouls and was not able to make an impact on offense, with neither of his crosses finding their target. However, he did win a foul in a dangerous position for Orlando by fighting for a loose ball with Ruan and had a clearance.
D, Michael Halliday (83’), N/A — The right back came on for Smith late in the match and had seven passes at an 85.7% success rate. He contributed a clearance on defense and shored up the right side of the field for Orlando. While he didn’t have a cross, he did well when needed for Orlando not to end the match empty-handed.
That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando’s second draw of the season. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match below.
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